Euthanasia is Not Murder


Debate continues over the issue of euthanasia because of the recent court
decision over Dr. Death. Kevorkian has been aquitted of murder in his assisted
suicide cases and the court has created precedent for the legalization of
selecting death. Euthanasia does take place and is selected voluntarily by
patients who are in great pain due to an incurable illness like cancer. Usually,
the decision is made to pull the plugs of machines which prolong life or to end
treatment. Because patients select to die, their deaths end suffering, and
there is no intention to cause harm, physician assisted euthanasia cannot be
considered murder.
Murder can be defined as an act of violence which is perpetrated against a
victim. For example, a man stuffed into a car after being shot five times is a
murder victim. The individual dies at a time which is forced by the killer who
has intent to harm him or her. For instance, when the Boston strangler killed
the women, he first terrorized them. Frequently murder is painfuland the person
who is dying has not voluntarily decided to participate in his or her death. By
its nature, murder is death by violence at a time of the killer\'s rather than
nature\'s choosing.
Unlike murder, euthanasia is not an act of violence. In an editorial in
the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dr. Eric Chevlen argues that patients, who are worn
down by pain, extensive testing, and depression, will be easily persuaded to
seek assisted suicide (11B). Furthermore, Chevlen mentions that the courts have
decided that the right to die should be made available to everyone (11B).
Modern medical technology has allowed doctors to prolong life past the point of
a patient\'s natural death. In the case of euthanasia, the doctor needs to end
suffering from cancer or AIDS and assist the patient to die comfortably.
Patients are beginning to assert their right to die rather than being kept alive
forcibly. For example, a Texan who suffered burns in a gas explosion, Dan
Cowart wanted to die even though he survived the accident. He believes that his
rights were violated by the doctors who prevented his death through life-
sustaining treatment. When a patient like Cowart is in constant pain, death
becomes a peaceful reward.
Additionally, doctor assisted euthanasia is performed with the full consent
of the patient. Murder steals life, while euthanasia gives the patient release.
A patient with a degenerative neurological condition has, in one case, begged
ofr help to die. The patients who have been helped by Dr. Kevorkian have all
been cancer victims whose daily bouts with pain.....,........ The patients have
requested their delivery from life. Muder on the other hand, usually takes the
victim by surprise. Another person has, for the most part, decided when the
murdered individual will die and by what method, but the slain person has not
given permission to be killed.
Finally, murders are committed with malice or harmful intent. People are
killed to keep secrets, steal power or money, and for other reasons, usually
criminal in nature. In other cases, a person is killed out of hatred or
because someone has determined that the person belongs to the wrong church,
ethnic group, or political affiliation. For example, hate crimes like murdering
African Americans, Jews, or other ethnic groups, are done out of an intention to
harm these people to get rid of them. Genocide like that done by Hitler was
wholesome murder. Like Dr. Kevorkian, other doctors who assist patients in
ending their lives help people to end pain and sufferining. Part of the
doctor\'s oath is to offer ease, and those patients, who desire to prevent
artificial prolongation of life on machines or stop pain caused by cancer or
other terminal diseases, see assisted suicide as a legitimate way out of their
personal hell.
Opponents to euthanasia see ven assisted suicide as murder. They hold that
euthanasia\'s legalization will give doctors a license to kill. Dr. Chevlen has
expressed a fear that patients are "battered by a society whose laws have
equated \'terminally ill\' with \'worthless\'." "He states, "Forse is not necessary
in such a situation. Persuasion suffices to convince the patient to choose
death. (B11) According to an Internet survey, samples of doctors questioned
about euthanasia reported that they did not consult ohter physicians or even
falsified the cause of death. Euthanasia opponents claim that doctors have a
duty to save lives and should not take a person off a machine, if the machine
will maintain life. Furthermore, the opponents to euthanasia see it as murder
because some patients, after